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Government’s Jobs Support Scheme. Will it work? Experts give their opinions

Jamie Mackenzie, Director of Sodexo Engage: Not only is this news a relief for businesses, especially SMEs, who have been strongly impacted by the pandemic and subsequent downturn in demand, but it also gives employees hope that they won’t be let go by their employer during this time of crisis.”

“Although businesses will still have to share some of the costs for this, the benefits for staff are clear. Covid-19 has left many employees feeling vulnerable and anxious, so it’s vital that employers are aware of these feelings and can act on them. Now more than ever, businesses need to provide their workers with reassurance, clarity and whatever support is available to help them through this difficult time.”

Peter Meyler, Head of HR Analytics & Consulting at Barnett Waddingham: “If properly applied, the Jobs Support Scheme should help to fill the gap and reduce the uncertainty for many people concerned about the furlough scheme ending at the end of October. On first sight, it appears to be more targeted than the ‘one size fits all’ approach of the furlough scheme which allowed some inappropriate and fraudulent use, while racking up a momentous bill for the Treasury.

The new support scheme needs to be aimed at and used by those sectors and businesses who need it the most. This means that the right balances and checks need to be in place in the design and deployment of the scheme to ensure that the money ends up where it is needed and in the right hands. Only then will we begin to see some relief and recovery for the hardest-hit sectors, and veer away from lasting economic damage.”

Responding to the Chancellor’s Jobs support scheme, Musab Hemsi, Partner, LexLeyton: “Sadly, the maths simply does not support 6 months of sustained employment. Without a clearer trajectory around industry-specific and overall business & economic recovery, many businesses will be left in the dark.

Unfortunately, the businesses within sectors such as hospitality, leisure and events will not be saved by these measures. Workers who find themselves within in industries where cashflow remains hampered or precluded by Government measures are likely to lose their jobs.

“Many features of the scheme also require a great deal of clarity before it goes live. At present we do not know which companies qualify and the meaning of ‘viable jobs’ and the qualifying criteria for a ‘large employer’.

Amongst other sectors, flexibility is going to be central to the success of this scheme. A great deal can happen over the course of six months, and businesses who are unable to plan ahead will need the scheme to be flexible in order to survive. We strongly encourage the Government to give employers room to manoeuvre and utilise the scheme to best suit their interests. Businesses must be able to make redundancies in some areas whilst saving jobs using the scheme in others.

The ability to access and leave the scheme, as well as businesses being able to consult on redundancies whilst utilising the scheme, will also be key imperatives.  A failure to do so will put chains and businesses at risk. The Government must trust business leaders to do the right thing. When German businesses were given flexibility under their wage subsidy scheme, the result was successful with millions of jobs being saved.”

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